vaccine parenteral vialImmunovaccine Inc., a clinical stage vaccine and immunotherapy company, has announced the launch of its DPX-NEO programme to develop neoepitope immunotherapies to further expand the immuno-oncology applications for its DepoVax-based vaccines. As its first official partnership for this programme, Immunovaccine will collaborate with experts in this field at UConn Health on a preclinical study to evaluate the immunologic and anti-tumour activity of patient-specific neoepitopes.

Epitopes are the part of the biological molecule that is the target of an immune response. Neoepitopes are the mutated proteins produced by a patient’s own tumours. Neoepitope vaccines target these patient-specific proteins and were recently dubbed “the next immunotherapy frontier.”

“Neoepitopes are emerging as a very strong option to advance personalized cancer medicine, as they have tremendous potential to effect cancer treatments that provide truly individualized immunotherapies,” said Frederic Ors, Immunovaccine’s Chief Executive Officer.  “Our novel DepoVax platform, with its unique mechanism of action and cost-effective, scalable manufacturing capabilities, is ideally positioned to become an enabling technology in this exciting field.”

Immunovaccine will use the learnings from this and future related collaborations to identify and target optimal formulations for neoepitopes using its proprietary DepoVax technology platform, and to develop a fully scalable approach for this type of immunotherapy.

A potential future goal is to develop patient-specific immunotherapies with neoepitopes identified in patients’ tumour cells. DepoVax-based cancer vaccines have already advanced through multiple Phase I human clinical trials and Immunovaccine is currently conducting a Phase II study with its lead cancer vaccine therapy, DPX-Survivac, in recurrent lymphoma.

The principal investigator for the DPX-NEO programme’s first study will be Pramod K. Srivastava, PhD, MD, Professor of Immunology and Medicine & Director, Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine at UConn Health. Dr. Srivastava has done extensive research on the methods by which neoepitopes could be used to create cancer vaccines and therapies, and has published several articles on this topic including a recent perspective on the field in Cancer Immunology Research.

“It is reasonable to expect that we will translate our knowledge of neoepitope specificity into successful immunotherapies in the clinic. The DepoVax platform’s track record makes it an attractive candidate to be included into personalized cancer vaccine formulations, and I look forward to the possibility of clinical studies using DPX-NEO to be conducted here at UConn Health,” said Dr Srivastava.

“The DepoVax platform offers distinct advantages for delivering peptide epitopes to the immune system and enables peptide manufacturing that can be easily scaled up and tailored for personalized neoepitope immunotherapies,” continued Mr Ors. “We firmly intend to focus our business in areas that leverage the benefits of our DepoVax technology, and launching DPX-NEO supports this strategy. It applies our significant technology advantages to an exciting opportunity in immuno-oncology.”